Story: Changes
Author: Deede
Disclaimer: No money, profit or capitalism of any kind is being made
from this story.
Spoilers: Story is based upon spoilers posted for Star Trek 10 at and AICN
Rating: Somewhere around PG-13. If you watched the show you can safely
read this.


She knew about his promotion before he did.

It hadn't been hard to put two and two together, her empathy sensing the
captain's excitement as he asked to speak with Will privately, the
jovial gleam of pride that shone in his eyes as he appraised his first
officer with a rare and brilliant smile. The answering anticipation that
sprung within Will's emotions as he walked towards the captain's ready
room with an eager air, turning briefly towards her to flash her that
wide and wondrous grin that had always caused her knees to go weak. Only
this time that amazing, warm, and loving gesture didn't have that
effect. This time she felt an awkward and profound fear clutch her gut
and rise determinedly within her, sending an unpleasant chill up her
body, while her emotional state disallowed the reflexive control over
the widening of her eyes or the lump that formed silently and
drastically within her throat.

She watched the two men disappear into the private sanctuary of Picard's
office, their movements slow and languid to her watering eyes, as if
they were a holographic projection set to run at a measured pace while
she stayed glued in her own position on her chair, unable to move,
unable to grasp the severity of the moment. A door hissed shut behind
them, blocking her view of their descent, hiding their progress from her
vision as the steady hum of her heart race increased to play a loud and
treacherous symphony in her ears. But despite the lack of presence of
the two men on the bridge the mood around her refused to revert back to
its pre-surreal atmosphere, effectively causing her spirit to feel as if
it had removed itself from the room and her duty and just stood watching
the events around her take place at a safe and guarded distance.

The remainder of her shift passed in a blur, one moment leading to
another without the passage of time being a cognitive factor in her
consciousness. Her mind was singularly driven by the need she felt in
her spirit to escape, to find a safe place: a location where she would
blessedly alone to nurture, contemplate and face her fears in peaceful
solitude. As a psychologist she could label each and every emotion that
passed through her sense. She could categorize her feelings, analyze her
reactions, and justify the reasons behind them. But even years spent
studying every nuance and complicated aspect of emotion that the soul
deemed plausible didn't prevent her from experiencing a multitude of
feeling when what promised to be a drastic change presented itself in
her life.

Blessedly, the end of her shift came and went, the door leading to the
captain's ready room remaining firmly closed, effectively hiding the
events taking place within. Deanna sighed in ill-fated relief, glad for
the delay in the inevitable, relieved in a sense for the time she was
granted to collect herself. In no less of a daze than when the whole
situation had started Deanna Troi walked silently towards her and Will's
quarters, replaying the events of the past couple of hours in her head,
speculating on the outcome, letting the quiet uncertainty for the future
wash over her.

Briskly she walked into her quarters, her eyes wandering over the living
room as if she’d never seen it before. Will’s jacket lay strewn over the
arm rest of a chair while a pair of her shoes lay on the floor, his
trombone laying side ways on a table next to a beautiful crystal vase
that Beverly had given her as a birthday present that was filled to the
brink with the wild Betazed orchids Will had surprised her with the
night before to put a smile on her face. The scent of his after shave
still present in the dense, processed air of the ship mingled with the
tint of her own perfume. Everywhere she looked sent reminders of
domestic cohabitation, indicators of a happy couple who had moved in
together months before their engagement had been announced and who had
laughingly agreed that within these walls there was only to be them,
their love and their friendship, and that their duty and jobs were to
remain safely outside the front door. Perhaps it was that agreement that
made her feel slightly guilty for stewing alone in their loving haven,
but whatever the reason she couldn’t get out of her stifling uniform
fast enough, nor could she help but to once more make a hasty retreat
once she had quickly dressed in her workout clothing.

Fate was kind enough to have the workout room be empty when Deanna
entered, and a grateful sigh she didn't know she had been holding
escaped her mouth as she moved to the center of the room and started the
graceful, methodical movements of the Klingon katas she had once been
taught. Exercise usually brought her serenity, allowed her a small point
in time where she focused on the needs of her body and allowed her mind
to concentrate fully on the ripple of muscle and the exertion of
movement, gaining energy and clarity of perception by engaging in such
an act. But try as she might she could not lose herself to workout the
way she usually did, and the worry that she been experiencing since
watching the Captain and Will had disappeared off the bridge intruded on
even her most sacred means of escape.

She was so lost in thought that she didn't feel the presence of another
until the door hissed open, and Beverly Crusher walked silently in. She
too was dressed in workout gear, appraising her friend with a quick once
over before moving to stand next to Deanna and mimic her same movements
as they had done together countless times in the past. The two women
silent for what seemed like decades while Deanna came to grips with her
frazzled nerves, and Beverly allowed her friend the time she knew she
needed to grapple with those thoughts.

And so it was almost a shock to the system when the doctor finally
spoke, piercing the silence of the room with a soft proclamation.

"I've been offered a position of Starfleet medical. I think I'm going to
take it," Beverly Crusher announced surely, her eyes meeting Deanna's as
she spoke.

Once again silence followed, and Deanna blanched at the warring emotions
within her, happiness for her friend, pride on her behalf, sadness over
the loss of not being able to see her daily and work out together just
as they were doing now, and once again that profound fear of change that
had been chasing her all afternoon. Such a mixture of emotion was
dizzying and overwhelming, and a quiet laugh sprang up from Deanna's
throat, her over worked psyche not being able to come up with a more
suitable reaction for the occasion.

But Beverly understood, she always had. She who had grown up in
Starfleet and who had married a career officer just as Deanna was about
to. She who had been moved from place to place just like any other
adventurer who wore pips on their collar but who had formed the
strongest of ties and the deepest sense of family on board a starship
called the Enterprise. And now their family, their ties, and their
weekly gatherings over poker was drifting apart and the safe haven they
had created for and within each other in the small band of seven senior
officers was growing beyond the confines of the federation's flagship.
And so the doctor joined the counselor in laughter, both of their bodies
wracked with hysterical giggles as they came to terms with the
uncertainty the future provided after spending fourteen years of their
lives onboard one ship while serving with central one crew.

"Will is being promoted," Deanna replied softly glancing at the ceiling
after the laughter had stopped and both women lay sprawled on the floor,
exhausted. "He and the Captain are discussing the details now. I think
that he is going to take it this time. I felt his excitement over the
prospect. A non-empath could have felt it."

Beverly Crusher nodded at her friend, a smile gracing her face as she
sat up enough to rest her head on the palm of her hand. "Of course, he
is going to take it this time. The one thing that always held him back
from accepting captaincy in the past was the idea that he would have to
leave you behind. But now you're going to be married, you're partners,
and Will no longer has to fear losing you by leaving the Enterprise."

Intellectually, Deanna knew the doctor's words to be true, but she
couldn't deny that it felt good to hear them, as irrational as it may
have seemed. She knew that Will loved her, had always loved her, just as
she had always loved him. Even while they had sworn to be friends while
they served together, each trying to repress the longing and need within
their spirits to connect with one another, they had loved. The tie that
bonded their destinies had never really allowed itself to be denied, or
ignored by any measure of cognitive thought, and the strength of that
conviction had kept their positions by each other's side firmly in place
over the years, only growing when they had finally admitted to their
selves and each other that their love was full, and complete, and nearly
overwhelming in its intensity. A smile spread slowly over the
counselor's face as her dark, tear filled eyes regarded her friend.

"Fourteen years. Fourteen years when we all first stepped on board the
Enterprise. Fourteen years of memories. Its going to be so hard to leave
this ship behind, even though a part of me is excited over the prospect
of facing the unknown," the counselor replied.

"That must be the part of you that inspired you to join Starfleet, the
part of us all that inspires such a vocation," Beverly responded

"Yes," Deanna affirmed, her thoughts somewhat calmed as she looked on
her friend with sincere eyes. "Congratulations on your promotion,
Beverly, I'm so happy for you."

"Thanks," the doctor beamed, the grin on her face growing. "Next time
you have shore leave I want you and Will to come visit me. And you
definitely need to write me and tell me about all your adventures so I
can live vicariously through you while I'm stuck planet side," the
doctor teased, her eyes also misting.

"Definitely," Deanna echoed, flashing her friend another grin. And it
was at that point that a familiar feeling washed over the counselor, a
gentle caress that started at the base of her spine and magically worked
its way up to cause her heart to race and her skin to tingle. The
beautiful, loving, and gentle presence of her Imzadi as he drew so
tenderly near.

This time it wasn’t a surprise when the doors hissed open, and this time
a calm and focused counselor was prepared to turn and face the man whose
large blue eyes lit up at the sight of her, the way they always did,
resulting in the instant dizzying pleasure of profound love that stirred
within her, the way only he could make her feel. And he smiled. That
wonderful, lopsided grin that went straight to her heart. That knee
weakening force that once again found its power. His gaze locked on
hers, hungrily, devotedly, he looked to her as if in awe, as if he had
never really quite grown to believe that she was really his and that the
past few years hadn’t just been a wonderful and beautiful dream. And she
felt the happiness that swelled within him, felt the excitement not just
over the promotion he had been offered, but in the fact that this time
he was able to share in that, in the future, with her. The thought was
both overwhelmingly loving and humbling all at once, and her eyes teared
once again, only this time it wasn’t over fear of the future, or loss
for the present, this time only happy tears glistened from the deep
pools of brown warmth that regarded Will Riker as if he were the only
man to exist in this universe and beyond.

Like so many other occasions over the years Crusher had served with
these two officers, she knew that they had retreated to their own world,
that no one existed in each of their prospective universes right now but
each other, and that was all right. It was indefinitely Will and Deanna,
and regarded upon whimsically by the close friends who had watched their
romance unfold so dramatically and touchingly over the years. With one
last smile at the two people who were like siblings to her, Beverly
Crusher made her exit, ever hopeful of the future, both theirs and hers.

With achingly sweet tenderness Will Riker tentatively approached his
fiancé, his fingertips coming to rest against the silky soft flesh of
her cheek as the familiar rush of feeling that happened whenever they
touched sprang between them. Instinctively Deanna moved her head so that
his hand was cupping her cheek, their eyes locked on each other as if in
a trance.

"I'd tell you the news but somehow I think you already know," he said at
last, the tremor of his voice jolting her from the spell that had been
woven between them.

"Yes," she answered simply, a slow yet heartfelt smile finding its way
across her face. "I'm so, so proud of you, Will."

His answering grin warmed her heart further, but it was the light in his
eyes that spoke of just how deeply her words impacted him.

"I haven't given them an answer just yet, I told them that I had to talk
it over with my better half before any definite decisions could be
made," he responded lovingly, his gaze taking on a slightly teasing
light, though his emotions were undeniably sincere. "I want you to be
with me in this, Deanna, I want to do what would be best for the both of

She had thought that she couldn't possibly love him anymore than she
already did, that her love was so full, so abiding that it had already
reached the boundaries of capability. She was wrong. In that moment her
already deeply penetrating love for him grew, and she moved to take both
of his hands in her own, their fingers interlacing as their hearts
lurched elatedly forward, delighted by the emotion, and the contact
between them.

She had once feared him achieving his life long goal of becoming captain
of his own ship. She had worried that his career, his duty, his very
ambition would consume his spirit and leave little room in his life for
her. But somehow over the years, through friendship, and through love,
through laughter and through tears, she had come to realize that not
only was there room in for her in his life, but that his ambition and
goals had become her own, and his dreams of the future were something
they shared.

"I think, Captain, that I can hardly wait to explore the universe with
you," she said when she had found her voice, its tremor no more than a
whisper that softly escaped her lips. But he heard her and it was
exactly what his heart had longed for her to say.

In a rush of boyish impulse he wrapped his arms tightly around her,
picking her up as if she weighed nothing at all and spinning her off the
floor as they both laughed freely and openly; happy, in love, and
excited over the prospect of solving some of the mysteries that the
universe held…together.

"It’s you and I, Imzadi, it’s you and I," Will Riker said, as he sank
slowly to the ground, his fiancé encased safely in his arms as they soon
forgot anything but the inevitable passion their close proximity never
failed to ignite.

The End!